Forever 309: How Destiny can become a more fair grind to the top [OP-ED]

Xur sold me 3 Exotic Gauntlet engrams this morning. The cryptarch gave me 3 pairs of Ruin Wings, 2 of which were only 290.

This time last year people were complaining that it was too hard to reach max gear in Destiny.  In response the community of players came together and discovered the loot cave, a cave of endlessly spawning hive that groups of players could kill over and over again in order to get engram drops.  This was at a time when people didn’t fully understand how leveling worked, players did not need to farm engrams as the way to receive better gear was locked within the Vault of Glass.  Soon players were complaining about a new problem, the gear they needed to reach the next level was now locked behind a random number generator.  While some players received all the gear they needed to reach max level, others would never receive boots during their entire play through.  Now that the Taken King has released, has Destiny learned it’s lesson?

In some ways forever 309 is the same as forever 29.  People are waiting for the random number generator to drop the one piece of gear that they need in order to reach max level.  It also become a problem of the carrot and the stick, Bungie does not want players to reach max level quickly for fear that they will stop playing.  You constantly have a carrot to chase and some new piece of gear to obtain.

Sure 309 is not the same as 29.  In fact is does not seem like there is much of a difference between a light level of 305 and 310.  Damage output is similar, and both values are more than enough needed to complete the raid.  In fact the raid can be completely rather quickly with a sparse group of 295 light level users.

My problem again lies in the method of achieving maximum level and the muddied message that Bungie communicates to the players.  What is the difference between light level 310 and light level 305?  What can the players do to achieve maximum level?  How does Iron Banner and Trials of Osiris fit into their plan?

Even Xur is a confusing piece of the puzzle.  Xur was often celebrated as a bringer of great gear to help lower level players quickly gear up with a fancy new exotic.  Nowadays Xur has been reduced to a Three of Coins vender.  By selling exotics at light level 280, he is no better than the Tower Venders.  His gear still needs to be upgraded with drops from the Raid to be relevant.

I guess my biggest complaint is that there is only one method of receiving drops over Light Level 300: the raid.  However, when I do receive a drop from the raid it is more often at Light Level 300, instead of 305 or even 310.  In order to obtain a sense of progression, I need the gear to matter.  Have a system that looks at a players current light level and only give them drops at or above that number.  This system could keep that feeling of progression in tact.

In the end, I do not feel like I am finished with Destiny: The Taken King.  However, I am unsure of how best to proceed.  Keep playing the raid and hoping for a better drop?  Wait for Xur to sell something that is far below my light level, with no set way to level it up.  Infusion is a lot of fun, but give me a better way to get level 300 gear.  Even the nightfall only grants 280 Vendor guns.  I think the Black Spindle was great to drop at 310 because it gave players an instant boost to their sense of progression. Compared to the Sleeper Simulant that dropped at 290 and was instantly underwhelming.

In the most recent weekly update, Deej said that last year most players were asking him how to obtain a Gjallarhorn.  Bungie has altered the path to obtaining most exotics to give a more direct route to obtain specific weapons.  And for that I commend them.  However, I’m sure Deej is not getting questions of how do I get light level 310 gear.  The answer is the same as it was for Year 1 Gjallarhorns.  Wait for a random drop.

I will say this, this is a much smaller complaint than last year.  However, I do not think that the light level is fixed.  At least look at Crota’s End had loot drops that favored what the player did not have.  Maybe I’m just salty about the multiple pairs of Ruin Wings.

Until next time Xur comes to the tower, I’ll keep a close eye on him and the Cryptarch.

TL;DR

There are definite ways to obtain certain items.  Bungie has done a great job outlining paths required to get certain weapons, even the quest line to achieve the Sleeper Simulant is fun and mysterious.  There are even paths to achieve 310 Artifacts.  But in order to gather other 310 Armor and Weapons, Bungie has relied on the tired tactic of randomness.  Even Xur has gone from selling max level gear to selling the equivalent of vender level gear.

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